The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Clear Aligners

By September 27, 2019Uncategorized

There are an increasing number of ideas popping up on the internet about DIY or “at-home” aligners. You have probably seen the advertisements show up – and it seems like there is a new “club” or clear aligner brand showing up monthly promoting this no-orthodontist-required do-it-yourself method to get the ideal smile.

While it is easy to believe that these “straighten your teeth at home” kits are safe and effective, there are a number of dangers which are not even discussed. In fact, this idea could be compared to someone saying you can just as easily fix your own broken bone without a doctor and without any risks.

Let’s look more closely as to why this is a dangerous trend. Many of these points are what we have dealt with when patients have come to us after trying these at-home aligners:

Risks and Dangers Less Often Discussed

When we talk about straightening teeth and improving your smile, we are talking about moving your teeth which are connected to the jawbone. Without regular supervision when moving your teeth to get a straighter smile, your teeth could potentially move right outside the bone.

In some cases, this movement can result in gum recession. Receding gums becomes a health concern when the roots of the teeth become exposed, leaving the teeth at risk of decay, infection, and loss.

Moving your teeth at home can also result in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:

  • Pain or tenderness of your jaw
  • Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
  • Aching facial pain
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth

Many patients have their teeth move a little but are still not satisfied with their smile and further straightening is required.

One of the biggest problems we see when dealing with patients that have come to us after trying a “do-it-yourself” or “at-home” clear aligner to straighten their teeth is a loss of function. Patients come to us because they can no longer bite the cheese off their pizza – their front teeth no longer come together. Or they lose their posterior bite and can no longer chew.

Why Use Professional Orthodontics

After completing Dental School, an Orthodontist goes on to complete additional training which can last anywhere from 3-5 years. Orthodontists typically have thousands of hours of training and thousands of hours of experience in moving teeth safely and effectively.
An Orthodontist trains in full mouth reconstruction. We precisely measure out and plan movement of your teeth. Not only this, we plan the position and spacing of every tooth. While straightening your teeth gives you a nicer smile, done correctly it also improves your bite and helps protect your teeth. Straightening teeth can also involve dental surgery such as wisdom teeth extractions to allow enough room in the mouth for the teeth to properly fit and straighten. This is not something anyone can do at home. Needless to say, there is a lot of science and expertise that goes with orthodontic treatments.


At our practice we have used Invisalign with great results. This relatively new technology and treatment makes it possible to straighten teeth without braces.

Invisalign gradually straightens teeth using a series of invisible, removable clear aligner trays. Invisalign aligners are custom designed for your smile using 3-D imaging technology. After wearing your aligner for a few weeks, you will switch to the next one in the series. This will gradually guide your smile into place.

Because Invisalign is made of thin, clear plastic, they are completely invisible! No one will even be able to tell you’re wearing braces. That means you can show off your smile during treatment – not just after! The low-key look makes Invisalign a very popular treatment option for teens and adults.

Contact us if you have any questions about braces, Invisalign or even DIY and at-home aligners.  We’re here to help.


Dr. David McDonough

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